The Inspiration and Inerrancy of Scripture

Inspiration of the Bible and Inerrancy

Session 1

By Ron Jones, D.D., Titus Institute

Scripture quotations are from the ESV Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version), Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


Introduction

This week we begin a four week study on the inspiration and inerrancy of the Bible.

In this series we are going to answer the question, "Is the Bible inspired by God and inerrant, that is, true in all that it affirms?"

When I am speaking about inerrancy, I am defining inerrancy the way the Bible defines it, the Bible is true and without error in all that it affirms about any subject or all of the Bible is true and without error. There are scholars who want to use the terms unlimited inerrancy and limited inerrancy. Unlimited inerrancy is the view that the Bible is true in all that it affirms about any subject or all of the Bible is true which I just stated. Limited inerrancy is the view that the Bible is true and without error only in the spiritual truths that it affirms, that is, only what it teaches in regard to redemptive matters.

(See Defending Inerrancy: Unlimited v. Limited Inerrancy)

The Bible only teaches inerrancy according to the first definition. It makes no distinction between spiritual matters, historical, geographical, and scientific matters as we shall see. So, inerrancy in the Bible refers to all of the Bible being true.

How can we as Christians know that the Bible is inspired by God and without error?

Do we need to look at every verse of the Bible and every possible error and work through every apparent contradiction and before we can affirm inspiration and inerrancy? No.

Could we do that even if we were committed to it? No.

No, that would be an impossible task. There is so much historical and scientific information we do not know and cannot know that it is impossible to do that.

Then how can we know for sure?

We can know by following what Jesus and his apostles taught about the truthfulness of the Bible. We can know by following Jesus and the apostles and what they taught about the inspiration and inerrancy of the Bible.

As Henry Virkler wrote, "If Jesus Christ is, as we believe, the Son of God, then His attitude toward Scripture will provide the best answer to the question of inerrancy." (Virkler, Henry A., Hermeneutics, Baker Books, Grands Michigan, 1981, 32),

So in these four weeks, we want to discover what Jesus and the Apostles believed about the truthfulness of the Scriptures as evidenced by what they taught and how we can answer the claims that the Bible contains historical, geographical, and scientific errors.

I am talking to you as believers. I am not talking to unbelievers. Don't expect to convince an unbeliever about inerrancy. Writing 66 books by many different authors over fourteen hundred years without error cannot be humanly done. It can only be done by divine supernatural power, the power of the Holy Spirit himself. If unbelievers do not accept the supernatural in the Bible, they will not accept the inspiration and inerrancy of the Scriptures. We, on the other hand, are followers of Jesus Christ and his apostles and what matters to us is what they taught about the Scriptures and their truthfulness. We believe in the supernatural.

Biblical faith is based on the belief and trust that God revealed himself to prophets in the OT and performed miracles in the history of the world as he unfolded his plan of redemption. He then sent his Son who revealed the Triune God, performed miracles, died on the cross and performed the greatest miracle of all, rising from the dead.

In this series, we are going to look at four points:

W1 The Inspiration of the Bible and Inerrancy

W2 The Truth of the Bible and Inerrancy

W3 The Historical Statements of the Bible and Inerrancy

W4 The Scientific Statements of the Bible and Inerrancy

We are going to base what we learn about these areas on what Jesus and his apostles taught.

The Inerrancy of Scripture is simply defined as all of the Bible is the Word of God and therefore all of the Bible is true.

This is taught in the New Testament in two major ways:

1. We know all of the Bible is true because all of the Bible is the Word of God and God is a God of truth and cannot lie.

2. We know all of the Bible is true because Jesus who is God declared all of the Bible is the Word of God and is true.

This week we will look at the first statement and next week the second statement.

This morning we come to

1. We know all of the Bible is true because all of the Bible is the Word of God and God is a God of truth and cannot lie.

W1 The Inspiration of the Bible and Inerrancy

1.1 All of the Bible is inspired by God and is the Word of God.

Let's look at 2 Timothy 3:16.

This is one of the key Scriptures you need to know that clearly claims that the Bible is inspired by God and therefore the Word of God. It gives the essential identity of the Scriptures.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

In these verses, Paul gives a powerful statement to Timothy of the nature and usefulness of the Scriptures. He desires to remind Timothy of the basis of his ministry and the basis of all that he and the apostles were doing for Christ.

Paul gives two key points: the nature of Scripture and the usefulness of Scripture. We will focus on the first one today.

The nature of Scripture = It is inspired by God; it is the Word of God.

Inspiration is an act of God.

v.16 "breathed out by God"

"Breathed out by God" is one word in the Greek translated in the ESV by four words in English.

It is translated "inspired by God " or "God-breathed " or as ESV "breathed out by God." It means that all Scripture comes from" the breath of God " or the " mouth of God. " It is the basis of the expression, the " Word of God."

What comes from out of our mouths from our breath moving in between our teeth and outward? Words! From the breath or mouth of God comes the words of God. "God breathed" is simply a metaphorical expression in the Scriptures for the words/word that comes from God. The Scriptures are the words of God. God is the source of Scripture. All Scripture is the Word of God.

We see this expression used in the OT.

Psalm 33:6 "By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host."

"Breath of his mouth" is a figurative expression for the "word of the Lord" in the previous phrase. These are parallel expressions that are typical of Hebrew poetry.

The author of the Scriptures is declared by Paul to be God Himself and the words of the prophets and writers of the Scriptures are the words of God.

All Scripture is the Word of God.

Let's look back at v.16.

v.16 "Scripture"

Notice Paul says,"Scripture."It is singular. "Scripture" means "writing" and refers to the revelation of God in written form. It is in the singular and refers to all the books of the Bible as one whole revelation. It also reveals that God's intent was never to depend solely on verbal revelation by the prophets to hand down his word from generation to generation. God's revelation was given to be written down and preserved throughout history just as we have it today.Revelation is God revealing his word to the prophets and apostles and inspiration is God using the Holy Spirit to work in their lives to write it down accurately so that the written word is from God.

Revelation is God revealing his word to the prophets and apostles and inspiration is God using the Holy Spirit to work in their lives to speak and write that revelation down accurately so that so that what they wrote are the words of God.

v. 16 "All Scripture"

"All Scripture" refers to all of Scripture taken as one whole revelation from God. "All Scripture" means all that is in the Bible from Genesis 1:1- revelation 22:21, not just the statements about spiritual truths, but also the statements about historical, geographical, and physical phenomena and events.

If you have ever heard the expression the verbal plenary inspiration of Scripture. This is the plenary aspect. All of the Bible is inspired, not just part of it. "Verbal plenary inspiration" means "verbal" the words of Scripture, "plenary" all the words of Scripture are inspired by God and are thus the Word of God.

Inspiration is accomplished by the Spirit of God.

2 Peter 1:20-21 "knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit."

v.20 "Prophecy of Scripture" - here he is talking specifically about the words of the prophets spoken to Israel and then written down in the O.T. This is not only predictions, but all the words of the prophets. Thus, it refers to the whole OT, for even Moses was considered a prophet (one who spoke for God).

Thus, it refers to the OT, for even Moses was considered a prophet, one who spoke for God. The Old Testament is called the writings of "Law and the Prophets."

Luke 16:16 "The Law and the Prophets were until John; since then the good news of the kingdom of God is preached..."

Jesus is clearly referring to the OT which was preached until John when the New Testament was born through the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

"of one's own interpretation" - "interpretation" here means "the interpreting of God's revelation by the prophet according to his own understanding as the Word of the Lord came to him." That is, a prophetic word of the Lord which the prophet spoke was not dependent on the prophet's own understanding and interpretation of that word to others. Peter says the OT is not dependent on the personal understanding and interpretation of the prophet of the Word of the Lord as it came to him.

v.21 "never came by the will of man" - the prophets did not decide they were going to have a prophecy from God.

v.21 "but holy men of God spoke" - men who were holy, i.e. set apart for the purpose of speaking for God

v.21"as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit" - "carried along" or "moved," the word is used with reference to ships that are carried along on a certain course by the wind (Acts 27:15,17).

The Holy Spirit moved in the minds and hearts of these men to give the revelation of God first in the words of their mouths then in the words they wrote.

So, the OT is not dependent only on the prophet's own understanding and interpretation of the Word of the Lord, but these specially selected prophets' minds and hearts were carried along by the Holy Spirit when they spoke and wrote so that they spoke and wrote the Word of God."

Notice, "men spoke" and then Peter says earlier "prophecy of Scripture" it was written down.

By the way, there was no real distinction in the ancient societies of the Old and New Testaments between the spoken word and the written word because the common people only received the written word by it being spoken to them. Most people knew the Scriptures because it was read to them out loud.

So "All Scripture is inspired by God" means that God, by the power of the Holy Spirit, guided the human authors so that what they wrote down was the very Word of God.

Revelation is what God reveals to man. Inspiration is the process where the Holy Spirit guides the writers to write down the revelation so that it is exactly what God wants. Because the Bible is inspired by God; all of it is the revelation of God. It is not dictation. Although some parts are quotes of God's actual words. The Holy Spirit worked within the individual personalities of the writers to write what he wanted. We know this because we know that the books the authors wrote are the Word of God and we observe that they show individual styles as the Holy Spirit guided them.That is why there are differences in style in the Scriptures - God never use human beings as robots always as human beings. So this is a basic definition of inspiration. And this is exactly what the Bible writers claim about themselves. Not only do they claim it about what they themselves were writing, but also about what other Scripture writers wrote.

Now what writings are referred to by the term "Scripture"?

First, "Scripture" refers to the Old Testament writings.

This is in the context.

2 Timothy 3:14-15 v.14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, v.15 and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

So Paul clearly calls the "sacred writings/the OT" the Word of God. Where did Paul get this from? He originally got it from the OT itself.

The Inspiration of the Old Testament

1) The Old Testament prophets claimed to speak the Word of God.

3,808 times claims such as "Thus says the Lord" or the Word of the Lord came" occur.

Jeremiah 1:1-5 1 The words of Jeremiah, the son of Hilkiah, one of the priests who were in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin, 2 to whom the word of the Lord came in the days of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah, in the thirteenth year of his reign. 3 It came also in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, and until the end of the eleventh year of Zedekiah, the son of Josiah, king of Judah, until the captivity of Jerusalem in the fifth month. 4 Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 5 "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations."

This is the same claim in Isaiah 1:1, 10-11 Hosea 1:1 Joel 1:1 Amos 1:1 Jonah 1:1

The Prophets tell us that God spoke to them and commanded them to speak those words to his people. There is no defense of their claims; they expect to be believed. Nor do we have to defend their claims. The Holy Spirit opens people's hearts to believe their claims.

NOTE: These people lived at different times and different locations and yet they each claim to speak direct revelation from God,

2) The Old Testament prophets were commanded by God to write down the Word of God they spoke.

Exodus 34:27 And the Lord said to Moses, "Write these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel."

"words" not just the ideas or concepts.

Jeremiah 30:1-4 1 The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: 2 "Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Write in a book all the words that I have spoken to you. 3 For behold, days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will restore the fortunes of my people, Israel and Judah, says the Lord, and I will bring them back to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall take possession of it." 4 These are the words that the Lord spoke concerning Israel and Judah.

God had always intended for his revelation to be written down and preserved for the following generations. And that all those writings would form the revelation of God. Notice: It says "words." God did not inspire the ideas or concepts and let the authors write it down in their own words without the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

What about the New Testament writers? What did they feel about the Old Testament?

3) Jesus and the apostles claimed that the OT was the Word of God.

Mark 7:9-13 9 And he said to them, "You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! 10 For Moses said, 'Honor your father and your mother'; and, 'Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.' 11 But you say, 'If a man tells his father or his mother, 'Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban' (that is, given to God), 12 then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, 13 thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do."

Jesus quoted the book of Exodus which is the written record of what Moses said and he called it the Word (logos) of God. Jesus is contrasting what the Lord says in the OT v. what the Pharisees and teachers of Israel had added later.

These are two quotes from

Exodus 20:12 "Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you."

Exodus 21:17 "Whoever curses his father or his mother shall be put to death."

Notice, that Jesus calls what was written down in the book of Exodus, the Word of God. This is very significant.

So all Scripture in 2 Timothy 3:16 refers to the Old Testament which had been written and completed long before Timothy was born.

Now, does 2 Timothy 3:16 also refer to the N.T. - the writings of the apostles and their associates as they were in the process of being written and completed at that time?

The answer is yes.

Paul and the other apostles knew they were preaching and teaching the Word of God which would include when they preached and taught through the written word.

Paul believed he was preaching and writing the Word of God.

1 Thessalonians 2:13 And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.

Paul quoted Luke's gospel as Scripture in his first letter to Timothy. 1 Timothy was probably written around 64 AD. The first three gospels were written between 60 and 64 AD.

1 Timothy 5:18 For the Scripture says, "You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain," and, "The laborer deserves his wages."

v. 18 "For the Scripture says" "You shall not muzzle an ox... is a quote from Deut.25:4 of the O.T.

"The laborer deserves his wages" is an exact word for word quote of Jesus himself in Luke 10:7.

Both are called by Paul Scripture which shows that already as the N.T. was being formed it was being considered Scripture inspired by God.As the NT was being written down, already the apostle Paul was calling it Scripture. There was a recognition by the apostles that what was being written down was equal with the OT Scriptures. Notice, both Paul's quote from Deuteronomy and his quote from Luke are equal.So when Paul writes at the end of his life, he is already talking about the NT as equal with the OT as it was being formed by the apostles and their close associates. When Paul wrote 2 Timothy in around 66 A.D. and used the term "All Scripture" he had already referred to Luke's gospel as Scripture in 1 Timothy.

2 Peter 3:15-16 15 And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, 16 as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.

2 Peter was written in the mid 60's before Peter's death at the hands of Nero. By the time it was written, Paul's early letters, which are all of them except the pastoral epistles (1 and 2 Timothy and Titus) were well-known and circulating all over the Mediterranean world.

Peter calls Paul's letters Scripture.

All the books in the NT were written by an apostle or a close associate of an apostle and that is why they were included in the NT.

Also, look back at 2 Timothy 3:16-17.

v. 16-17 "profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work." The "man of God" refers to the Christian. Paul is talking to Timothy who is ministering to Christians. The Scripture could not be useful to the Christian for teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness with the OT alone. It is not enough revelation for the believer in Jesus Christ. It must also include N.T.

1.2 The Bible is the Word of God and is true because God is a God of truth and cannot lie.

How does the "All Scripture is inspired/breathed out by God and thus the Word of God" demonstrate it must be inerrant?

All of the Word of God is true because God is truthful so his Word must be truthful. God it truthful by his very nature and cannot lie or speak falsely. Therefore, his Words must be true also.

Titus 1:2 "in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began"

Titus 1:2 speaks of "God, who never lies," or (more literally translated), "the unlying God." Because God is a God who cannot speak a "lie," his words can always be trusted. Since all of Scripture is spoken by God, all of Scripture must be "unlying," just as God himself is: there can be no untruthfulness in Scripture.

Hebrews 6:18 "18 so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us." Hebrews 6:18 mentions two unchangeable things (God's promise to Abraham and his oath to fulfill it) "in which it is impossible for God to lie." Here the author says not merely that God does not lie, but that it is not possible for him to lie. This is a clear statement of God's nature as the God of truth. God cannot lie. Since the Bible is the Word of God it cannot contain anything that it affirms to be true that is not true."

Look at

2 Samuel 23:1-2

"Now these are the last words of David: The oracle of David, the son of Jesse, the oracle of the man who was raised on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, the sweet psalmist of Israel: 'The Spirit of the Lord speaks by me; his word is on my tongue. The God of Israel has spoken; the Rock of Israel has said to me..."

David was well aware of the fact that God spoke to him and through him.

Jesus affirms this.

Matthew 22:43-45 "He said to them, 'How is it then that David, in the Spirit, calls him Lord, saying, 'The Lord said to my Lord, 'Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet.' 'If then David calls him Lord, how is he his son?'"

Then Jesus calls the Holy Spirit who is God, the Spirit of truth.

John 14:26 "But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me."

Then, how can the Scriptures given by inspiration of the Spirit of truth contain falsehoods in all that it affirms to be true, it can't. All of the Scriptures, the Word of God, comes from the God of truth, therefore, it must be true.

Conclusion:

If all of the Bible is the Word of God and God is a God of truth and cannot lie, then his all of his Word, all of the Scriptures is true. That is the first argument from the Scriptures for inerrancy. Next week we will look at the second one.